Tags: Attorneys-General

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that restricting the sale or rental of mature-themed video games to minors violates the United States’ First Amendment right to free speech. While it is important to note that the American constitution is very different from the Australian constitution, as the U.S. offers protection for free speech,  it was interesting to see Dr. Craig Anderson’s research mentioned in the opinion which can be read on the Supreme Court’s website.

Dr. Craig Anderson’s research has been regularly pointed to by Australian alarmists lobbying against an R18+ classification for games as proving a link between violent video games and aggression. But the U.S. Supreme Court determined that his research is not compelling and pointed out that his studies, “have been rejected by every court to consider them.”

The opinion goes on to say that, in a similar lawsuit, Dr. Anderson himself admitted that, “the ‘effect sizes’ of children’s exposure to violent video games are ‘about the same’ as that produced by their exposure to violence on television” – that the same effects found in his research can be found when children watch violent cartoons.

Dr. Craig Anderson’s research was also considered last year by Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department in a literature review on the impact of playing violent video games on aggression. The department’s conclusion at the time was that research into the effects of violet video games on aggression is contested and inconclusive.

An excerpt from Justice Scalia’s opinion can be found below. Justice Alito concurred with the judgement, as did the Chief Justice.  Justices Thomas and Breyer hold a dissenting view.

“The State’s evidence is not compelling.  California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at least be a beginning).  Instead, “[n]early all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology.” Video Software Dealers Assn. 556 F. 3d, at 964. They show at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and minuscule real-world effects, such as children’s feeling more aggressive or making louder noises in the few minutes after playing a violent game than after playing a nonviolent game”

“Even taking for granted Dr. Anderson’s conclusions that violent video games produce some effect on children’s feelings of aggression, those effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media. In his testimony in a similar lawsuit, Dr. Anderson admitted that the “effect sizes” of children’s exposure to violent video games are “about the same” as that produced by their exposure to violence on television.  App. 1263.  And he admits that the same effects have been found when children watch cartoons starring Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner,  id., at 1304, or when  they play video games like Sonic the Hedgehog that are rated “E” (appropriate for all ages), id., at 1270, or even when they “vie[w] a picture of a gun,” id., at 1315–1316.”


As expected the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has not yet made a decision on the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games. They have instead released a report containing preliminary figures and information about the public consultation that closed at the end of February. The report is available on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

The report shows that 98.2% of the submissions were in favour of the R18+ rating for games but Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor said that ministers had to also consider “the strength of the arguments on each side.”

Yes or No

Yes or No

‘Grow up Australia’ is mentioned often in the report and a pie chart indicates the number of submissions that were received via our website compared to other means. You can also see the clear success of EB Games in store petition.

Submission Method

Submission Method

The government has also released some of the submissions made by organisations including those made by the iGEA, ACL, EFA and ACCM.

Grow up Australia!

Grow up Australia!

EB Games Australia has joined forces with Grow up Australia and thrown their support behind the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games.

Grow up Australia posters are prominently displayed in every EB store across Australia and a petition is available to sign. In addition to their in-store campaign EB are providing a link from their website to Grow up Australia’s online Submission form so that their customers can participate in the Governments Public Consultation: An R18+ Classification for Computer Games.

The online submission form will be available until the 14th of February.

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has committed to repeal unpopular amendments to the South Australia Electoral Act 1985. The amendments would have made it illegal for people to anonymously comment on the upcoming state election online.

The decision to repeal came after harsh criticism from online news sites, bloggers and everyday Internet users who posted comments about the issue.

Atkinson can be seen apologising in an online video.

The amendments that are to be repealed by Atkinson were highlighted in this post.

[EDIT]: South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has committed to repeal these unpopular amendments.

Amendments to the South Australia Electoral Act 1985 that came into effect on the January 6 will mean that anyone wishing to post a comment about the SA state election will be legally required to include their real name and postcode. The restriction will only apply during the election which extends from after the writs have been issued until 6pm on polling day.

Many supporters for the introduction of the R18+ for games debate are hoping for SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to lose his seat in the upcoming election as he is strongly opposed to an R18+ for games and has the power to veto the change.

The change to the act was included in a number of amendments that were made last year and was supported by the Opposition. The part of the act that has been changed is quoted below with the changes emphasized.

116—Published material to identify person responsible for political content

(1) A person must not, during an election period, publish material consisting of, or containing a commentary on, any candidate or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors, in written form, in a journal published in electronic form on the Internet or by radio or television or broadcast on the Internet, unless the material or the programme in which the material is presented contains a statement of the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material.

Maximum penalty:

(a)     if the offender is a natural person—$1 250;

(b)     if the offender is a body corporate—$5 000.

(2)     This section does not apply to—

(a)     the publication in a journal (including a journal published in electronic form on the Internet) of a leading article;

(b)     the publication of a report of a meeting that does not contain any comment (other than comment made by a speaker at the meeting) on any candidate, or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors;

(c)     the publication in a journal (including a journal published in electronic form on the Internet) of an article, letter, report or other matter if—

(i)     the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material is provided to the publisher of the journal and retained by the publisher for a period of 6 months after the end of the election period; and

(ii)     the journal contains a statement of the name and postcode of the person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material;

(ca)    the publication of a letter (otherwise than as described in paragraph (c)) that contains the name and address (not being a post office box) of the author of the letter;

(d)     a news service or a current affairs programme on radio or television or broadcast on the Internet;

(e)     any other prescribed material or class of material.

(3)     In this section—

journal means a newspaper, magazine or other periodical.

Gamers 4 Croydon have announced some candidates for the South Australian election this year. The G4C website also tells us to expect further candidates to be announced at a later date.  The two candidates announced so far are Kat Nicholson and Chris Prior.

Kat Nicholson will be running directly against Michael Atkinson in the electoral district of Croydon

Some information about the candidates from the G4C website:

Candidate for Croydon: Kat Nicholson

Kat has sustained a lifelong love of both gaming and politics and is a highly intelligent, motivated and educated young woman. She completed a BA at Flinders University and is currently studying a Masters in journalism at the University of South Australia. She spent a year as an intern at one of Adelaide’s leading animation studios, and has a long history of participation in community and amateur theater.

Candidate for the Legislative Council: Chris Prior

Chris is the President of Gamers4Croydon and will be leading the G4C ticket in the upper house. He is a self-taught software engineer, and has volunteered extensively in the community, providing help for youth groups and church organisations.

More information available on the G4C website.

Gamers 4 Croydon

Gamers 4 Croydon

Will 2010 be the year Australia introduces an R18+ classification for computer games?

As a result of passionate individuals voicing their opinions via blogs, social media and old fashioned word of mouth we have enjoyed a huge increase of awareness in the greater population. Due to the boost in interested people we have also seen more exposure on television, radio and in popular publications.

In 2009 numerous letters were sent to Attorneys-Generals and rallies were organised. Even a political party was formed to challenge Michael Atkinson in the upcoming state election. A petition was set up on a Queensland Government website with the intent on exploiting a possible loop-hole in a State Act.

Most significantly The government finally released the highly anticipated discussion paper and are undergoing the public consultation that they promised. This valuable opportunity to voice your opinion expires on the 28th of February 2010. You can participate directly by downloading the forms available on the Attorney-General’s Website or you can use our Online Form.

With the government appearing to take an interest It’s easy to be lulled into inaction. Individuals need to continue to raise awareness. This can be as simple as raising the topic with a friend or family member.

A number of games expected to be released this year are likely to have problems qualifying for MA15+, our highest possible rating for games. Six Games were Refused Classification in 2009 .

In the early days, there was Pong’s black and white tennis game, Space Invader’s alien shooting adventure and Pac-Man’s world-renowned yellow blob. Now, fast forward nearly 40 years and times have changed. Australians spend more money creating virtual cities and obliterating hidden zombies than at the movies. Interactive gaming is the new black – no matter your race, gender or culture.

And what’s more, the games itself have grown increasingly sophisticated. Two dimensional, black and white games are a thing of the past with the array of next-generation releases containing rich graphics, dynamic characters and compelling storylines. With the average Australian gamer 30 years old, it’s no surprise that more and more games carry mature themes.

But what does come as a shock to many is that Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ rating. Films, which fall under the same classification system, can be granted an R18+ or even X18+ rating but this is not the case for computer and video games. If a game exceeds the MA15+ rating, it is either refused classification or modified to fit within the rating guidelines.

If the deadly Mafia series The Godfather which is clearly not the romantic drama Gone With the Wind can be considered one of the greatest films in cinematic history why can’t the same thinking apply to games?

Our classification system needs to be changed so adults can play games as they were meant to be played. The Commonwealth Government has released a discussion paper to canvas public opinion on the possible introduction of an R18+ for Computer Games. You can participate in this public consultation by using our submission form . Don’t forget to spread the word!

This form will no longer be available after the 14th of February to allow adequate time for collating responses and submission prior to the final deadline of the 28th of February.

Be sure to show your support by joining our Facebook and Steam groups!

The Commonwealth Attorney‑General’s Department has finally released the Discussion Paper on the R18+ Classification for Computer Games. The public are invited to make submissions on the matter up until the 28th of February 2010.

The Discussion Paper outlines some of the arguments for and against the R18+ rating:

Some arguments against including an R 18+ classification for computer games

  • Computer games should be treated differently from films given the specific, negative effects of interactivity on players, particularly their participation in violent and aggressive content.
  • It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games.
  • Minors would be more likely to be exposed to computer games that are unsuitable for them.
  • An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non‑English speaking people.
  • There is no demonstrated need to change existing restrictions.

Some arguments for including an R 18+ category for computer games

  • The R 18+ classification category sends a clear, unambiguous message to parents that the game material is unsuitable for minors.
  • Consistent classification categories for films and computer games are easier to understand.
  • A new classification will supplement technological controls on minors’ access to age-inappropriate computer games.
  • Adults should not be prevented from playing R 18+ level computer games simply because they are unsuitable for minors.
  • Consumers access games which would be R 18+ illegally – it would be better if they were legally available with appropriate restrictions.
  • Comparable international classification systems have an adult rating for computer games – international parity is desirable.

You can download the entire discussion paper and a template for making a submission  from the Commonwealth Attorney‑General’s Department’s website.


In an interview as part of an ABC news story SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has supported the Classification Board’s decision to refuse classification to Aliens vs Predator.

“You don’t need to be playing a game in which you impale, decapitate and dismember people.”

In discussing the movement for an R18+ rating for computer games in Australia he remarks:

“This is a question of a small number of very zealous gamers trying to impose their will on society. And I think harm society. It’s the public interest versus the small vested interest.”

The video also features Ron Curry CEO of iGEA who supports the introduction of the R18+.